Africa Media Review for October 3, 2019

Mali Reels after Jihadist Raids on Military Camps
Malian troops backed by foreign allies on Wednesday launched a hunt for scores of comrades listed as missing after one of the deadliest attacks in a seven-year-old jihadist insurgency. … [A]round 60 soldiers are listed as missing – 78, according to a security source – with no details as to whether they have been killed or captured. … The losses are a crushing blow to Mali’s armed forces, which are flailing in the face of a jihadist revolt that has spread from the arid north to its centre, an ethnically mixed and volatile region. … Only 13 soldiers emerged unscathed from the attacks, which were eventually subdued with the help of Malian special forces and foreign allies, including French warplanes. The jihadists also made off with a large quantity of arms, ammunition and equipment – local media say about 20 vehicles were captured, including some mounted with machine-guns. According to an army report seen by AFP, two army helicopters and about a dozen vehicles were burned in the attack on Boulkessy. The camp there – which housed a Malian battalion that was part of the G5 Sahel – was destroyed. AFP

Cameroon Separatists Celebrate ‘Independence’ as Dialogue Is Held
English-speaking Cameroonians came out in huge numbers on Oct. 1 to celebrate what they call their independence day, declared by separatist leaders in 2017. … The Oct. 1 celebrations marked the second anniversary since separatists in Cameroon’s Northwest and Southwest regions proclaimed an independent state they call Ambazonia. During the gatherings, nine people were reported killed in gun battles with the military in Kumbo, the Northwest villages of Kikaikom and Mbveh, and the Southwest towns of Kumba and Mamfe. … A government-run dialogue ordered by Biya and aimed at resolving the separatist crisis is under way in Yaounde. Separatist backers who live outside Cameroon refused to attend, demanding the government first release Ayuk Tabe and accept negotiations led by the Swiss government. VOA

US Reopens Embassy in Somalia after 28 Years
The United States has reopened its embassy in Somalia. The previous one had been closed in January 1991 during the country’s civil war. The new embassy building is located on the grounds of Mogadishu’s international airport. … U.S. Ambassador to Somalia Donald Yamamoto described the re-establishment as a “significant and a historic day that reflects Somalia’s progress in recent years.” He said the embassy will “enhance cooperation, advance U.S. national strategic interests, and support our overall security, political, and economic development goals and objectives.”… The announcement coincided with the conclusion of Somali Partnership Forum, a two-day meeting between Somali leaders and international community held in Mogadishu for the first time. During the meeting, the U.S. Agency for International Development announced nearly $257 million in new humanitarian assistance to Somalia. The new humanitarian package brings U.S. total assistance to Somalia to just under a half-billion dollars this year. VOA

Foreign Backing Brings Militias in Libya to a Stalemate-and No Further
When Turkey sent armored vehicles here in May to help stave off an attack on the capital, there was a problem: The trucks didn’t have mounted machine guns. “Because they lack weapons, they do us more harm than good,” said militia commander Yusuf bin al-Amin. “They are essentially just closed boxes, and those inside die if it’s hit with a missile.” Foreign powers have funneled military support to both sides of Libya’s civil war-but not enough to give either a decisive advantage. On one side is the United Nations-recognized Government of National Accord or GNA, which controls Tripoli and much of the country’s west with help from arms supplied by Turkey. On the other is the attacking force of Khalifa Haftar, a Libyan-American duel citizen who rules the country’s east and south with help from Egypt, the United Arab Emirates and Saudi Arabia. The Wall Street Journal

Tunisia Sets Presidential Election Runoff for October 13
Tunisia’s electoral commission said Wednesday the country’s presidential election runoff would take place on October 13 despite calls to postpone the vote by the party of a jailed frontrunner. ISIE said campaigning would kick off on Thursday for the second and final round of voting, which will see imprisoned media mogul Nabil Karoui face off against independent law professor Kais Saied. “ISIE can neither advance nor postpone the date of the elections under the constitution,” commission head Nabil Baffoun said. The spokesperson for Karoui, who has been detained since August 23 on charges of money laundering and tax evasion, had called on Tuesday night for a suspension of the vote as long as the candidate remains behind bars. That came as Tunisia’s court of appeal rejected a fresh request for Karoui’s release. AFP

Violence Threatens Mozambican Elections
The elections scheduled for October 15 are seen as a milestone, as they take place after the death of longtime opposition leader Afonso Dhlakama and in the wake of an accord with his party, the Mozambican National Resistance (RENAMO), meant to put the country on the path of a lasting peace. But hopes are being dashed as violence in Mozambique reached an extent unknown in previous polls, says researcher Corinna Jentzsch, of the University of Leiden, in the Netherlands: “The country has become more and more politically polarized. There’s been more and more social and economic inequality,” making people doubt that elections will change anything and fomenting strife, Jentzsch explained. A feeling of being left behind might be the driving factor for the emergence of a group within RENAMO, the largest opposition party, which has refused to disarm in spite of the peace agreement signed with the government of President Filipe Nyusi last August. DW

Rwanda Charges 25 Suspected Rebels with Attempt to Overthrow Government
A group of 25 men appeared before a military tribunal in Kigali as suspected operatives for the rebel group, Rwanda National Congress (RNC), which the government labelled as a terror organisation. The RNC is mainly composed of former allies of President Paul Kagame, now bitter foes, residing mainly in exile. It was started in 2010 by Kayumba Nyamwasa, the former chief of staff of Rwanda Defence Forces and the late Patrick Karegeya, Rwanda’s former Chief of Intelligence-whose murder in Johannesburg December 2013 caused a cessation in relations between South Africa and Rwanda. The men who appeared in court on Wednesday include three who identified themselves in court as Burundian citizens, two said are Ugandan and one identified as a Malawian. They were all charged with four crimes, including; committing acts to harm the established government or attempting to overthrow the government by use of military force, maintaining relations with a foreign government with intent to wage a war, formation and joining a criminal association, as well as joining an illegal armed group. The East African

Zimbabwe: Mnangagwa Gives In, Sets Up Special Team to Deal with State Violence
Barely a week after United Nations (UN) special rapporteur Clement Nyaletsossi Vaule delivered a damning report on Zimbabwe’s state of human rights and eager to please the world, President Emmerson Mnangagwa has set up a special team to look into the violence that has rocked the country since last year. Mnangagwa, who is struggling to convince the West that he is leading a ‘new dispensation’ that respects people’s basic rights, told Parliament on Tuesday that he was going to set up an inter-ministerial task-force to investigate the matters. In his State of the Nation address to Parliament on Tuesday, the President said he was going to investigate accusations of rights abuses. “The ongoing democratic reforms must entrench constitutional rights and freedoms for all Zimbabweans and therefore the culture of fear and violence must be uprooted from our societies,” said Mnangagwa. New Zimbabwe

US Bans Trade in Rough Diamonds from Zimbabwe
The US on Tuesday banned trading of diamonds from Zimbabwe in a fresh blow to re-engagement between the two countries. Zimbabwe expects to produce 4.1-million carats of diamonds in 2019, up from 2.8-million carats in 2018. At the peak of production in 2012, the country’s output was 12-million carats. However, allegations of gross corruption and looting in the diamond sector have left the country with no meaningful benefits from its diamonds. Former president Robert Mugabe at one time stated that close to $15bn was suspected to have been looted from the country’s illicit diamond deals. Russian diamond company Alrosa has signed a deal to explore and mine diamonds in Zimbabwe, as the Southern African nation seeks to leverage its mineral resources to boost the country’s ailing economy. Business Day

In Congo, a ‘Militarised’ Ebola Response Has Fuelled Community Resistance
That day, Tsimbula was heading to get a jab against the deadly virus. At the vaccination site, the health workers were escorted by Congolese police officers who were facing off against a group of local protesters asking the medical team to leave. The locals threw a few stones, according to witnesses; the police officers responded with live bullets. Tsimbula, a bystander, was shot in the spleen. Two others were hit in the neck and back. All three required surgery but survived. … He and several other residents interviewed by The New Humanitarian in July near the epicentre of the outbreak in North Kivu province said their trust in the relief effort had been compromised by the heavy-handed government security forces who regularly escort health workers. A July report from the UN’s Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights highlighted the “disproportionate use of force” by police and army personnel dealing with protests against Ebola responders. The New Humanitarian

CAR: Portugal’s Military Drone Program Takes Flight
The drone is lightweight, man-portable, hand-launched and meant to be operated by two people. The system is designed to be unpacked and launched within five minutes. The American-built drone is now used by 18 of NATO’s 29 militaries and operators on all six inhabited continents. A 10-day training course is needed to deploy the system. The drone will give Portuguese forces ISTAR capabilities and improve C4ISR. Helmet camera footage of Portuguese forces involved in combat operations against militias in Central African Republic shows confused gunfights – and that’s where the new Portuguese drone capability could prove helpful as Portuguese forces are often called onto to perform missions on short notice in the CAR. Portugal has deployed roughly 200 personnel, mainly paratroopers, to the United Nations’ ongoing MINUSCA peacekeeping operations in Central African Republic. A special company operates from the capital Bangui as a Rapid Reaction Force. The Defense Post

Nigeria’s Leader in South Africa after Attacks on Foreigners
Nigeria’s president was meeting with South Africa’s leader on Thursday after a wave of attacks on foreigners angered many African countries and led to an extraordinary airlift to take hundreds of Nigerians home. The talks between Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari and South African President Cyril Ramaphosa is also a meeting of Africa’s two largest economies, with more than $3.3 billion in trade between them in 2018. South Africa has been making efforts to mend ties with Nigeria and others after its government faced criticism for not explicitly speaking out against xenophobia at first but instead framing the violence as crime. More than 12 people were killed and more than 700 arrested after bands of South Africans in Johannesburg and the capital, Pretoria, launched attacks against foreign-owned shops and stalls, looting and burning the small businesses and attacking some shopkeepers. AP

Niger President, Others Praise [Nigeria’s] Jonathan as Good Example for African Democracy
African leaders led by President of Niger and Chairman of ECOWAS Heads of State and Government, Mahamadou Issoufou, and former Liberian President, Amos Sawyer, on Wednesday paid tribute to former President Goodluck Jonathan for leaving office voluntarily and masterminding peaceful power transition, describing it as an exemplary show of leadership that should motivate those in power. President Issoufou made this known while giving his presidential address at the on-going Constitutional Terms Limit Summit in Niamey, capital of Niger. Mr. Issoufou also commended other former Presidents in attendance including Nicephore Soglo of Benin, Amos Sawyer of Liberia, Mahamane Ousmane of Niger and Catherine Samba-Panza of the Central African Republic all of who he said adhered to prescribed term limits. Premium Times

Nigeria: ‘We Cry and Cry’: Pain Endures for Mothers of Missing Chibok Schoolgirls
Last week, Yana Galang left her small farm in Borno state, Nigeria, in the care of seven of her eight children and travelled by bus and train for the first time to the capital, Lagos. From there, she became the first member of her family ever to board a plane, and came to New York. The mother of one of the 112 Nigerian schoolgirls of Chibok still missing after being abducted by Boko Haram in 2014 came to the city during the UN general assembly, on a mission to remind the world that – five years on – their children still have not been brought home. Galang feels the world had forgotten about the kidnapped girls. “If this was the president’s or vice-president’s daughter, they would have found her by now,” Galang told the Guardian. “But in three years they don’t call us. We’ve heard nothing. We cry and cry and the tears dry, and still we have no answer.” The Guardian

Africa Must ‘Value Youth’ in the Drive towards Lasting Peace, Young Envoy Tells Security Council
“We have to value youth and their contribution to society, they will look for recognition elsewhere, if we don’t,” Aya Chebbi, youth envoy for the African Union (AU) who hails from Tunisia, explained during the Council’s meeting on peace and security, in line with a flagship AU project to “silence the guns by 2020.”In order for youth to give up their guns “we have to give them direction” and provide “the enabling environment” for them to thrive, she explained. The meeting, convening under the presidency this month of South Africa, follows a vision established by African leaders to end all wars in Africa by 2063, which involves stamping out gun violence by 2020. … Youth – persons aged between 15 and 24 – make up 1.2 billion of the world’s population, 600 million of whom live in violent regions. Roughly 20 percent of the population of the African continent fall within this age range. UN News

Tanzania: Dar Floods Cost City $100M in Damages Last Year
Flooding in Tanzania’s commercial capital Dar es Salaam last year killed some 17 people and caused damage to infrastructure estimated at $100 million, the World Bank has said. The Bretton Woods institution conducted a study on poverty and resilience in Dar es Salaam, quantifying the magnitude of the impact. The losses incurred are estimated to be close to two per cent of the gross domestic product (GDP) of the country’s largest metropolis, which is often hit by flooding. The study also revealed that the Msimbazi river basin is the most flooded part of the city, which results in an average of 950,000 cubic metres of sand getting loose each year. The resulting sediment slows the passage of water to the Indian Ocean, thus adding to the flood related woes in the city. The Citizen

Forsaken in Terror War, Kenyan Islands Await Doctors by Boat
Laden with medicines, the speedboat sets off before dawn, its path lit only by the full moon as it cuts between miles of thick mangroves towards Kenya’s border with Somalia, where few dare to go. Two hours later at sunrise, the boat arrives at Kiangwe village, one of several remote coastal communities whose only healthcare comes from these monthly visits by the Safari Doctors mobile medical team. Volunteer doctors and nurses roll up their trousers and heave containers full of medical supplies onto their shoulders before wading ashore and hiking up a hill to a building that will serve as their clinic for a few hours. Kiangwe and surrounding villages have been hard-hit by the Kenyan government’s war with Somali extremist group Al-Shabaab, whose militants operate from within the nearby Boni Forest which straddles the border. AFP



Photo: Adam Jones